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Aphids on Fava Beans attract beneficial insects

Click on the YouTube icon to get a higher quality version.

Maria uses her macro lens to close in on our Fava Beans, which are covered in black aphids. Instead of reporting a bad news story, she points out all the beneficial insects dining on the aphids and shows us a bucket of ripe beans that survived despite the pest attack. Later she turned the harvested beans into a delicious Fava Bean humous.

More on Fava Beans here.

July 13, 2009   1 Comment

Maria makes garlic scape pesto at our garden

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We grow lots of garlic at the Vancouver Compost Garden. But not many people know about scapes, the flowering stems that appear in June about three weeks before the bulbs are harvested.

Maria picked some of our scapes and prepared a quick and easy recipe for delicious pesto sauce.

June 29, 2009   Comments Off

The Earth and I are friends now – 1943 wartime ad – tribute to the new millions of amateur farmers

1943 National Dairy Products Corporation and affiliated companies

“The Earth and I are friends now”

Last year I never thought of the earth except as something to walk on. But in the spring I turned up the sod and planted seed. Summer – grubbing for weeds and watching things grow – I got friendly with the land.

Well, it’s autumn now. The crop wasn’t big – but fair enough. And something good has happened to our family! We’ve weeded and watered and hoped together. And said our table blessing over our own harvest.

It seems to me that my family has come back to some important things. Come back to one another – and to our good soil. Come back to being neighbors with the family whose garden row begins where ours leaves off.

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June 11, 2009   Comments Off

1889 – My Handkerchief Garden – A City Farmer in the 1800’s


My Handkerchief Garden, 1889
By Barnard, Charles, 1838-1920
New York, Garden Publishing
62 pages

Excerpts below:

At last it was found ; a six-room house with a mere handkerchief of a garden, measuring about one-thirtieth of an acre, or about as big as a city back yard. The soil was a wet, heavy clay, full of stones, and shaded by a number of tall trees growing on the next lot. In March, 1887, we moved to the place, and on the twenty-first we paid twenty-five cents for one ounce of Tennis Ball Lettuce seed. So it was the scrap of a garden began, and thereon does hang the more or less learned remarks that make this book.

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May 13, 2009   2 Comments

World War 1 Food Garden Parade – video

World War One Food Garden Parade. circa 1914.

Produce from village war gardens on display. Opens with parade. Man leading horse pulling a wagon of produce and Union Jack stuck on front. Boy Scouts walk behind the wagon carrying gardening tools and flags. Then a local marching band. This procession comes marching into town square; as other people watch. Lots of lettuces; other vegetables piled high on truck; pan to men standing beside truck; and another truck loaded up with marrows and potatoes and things — less leafy than the other one;

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February 4, 2009   Comments Off

1700’s – The Food Gardens at the Fortress of Louisbourg

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From the Fortress of Louisbourg by SchoolNet

Founded in 1713 for its cod fishery, Louisbourg enjoyed three peaceful decades as a French colonial seaport. New Englanders captured the town in 1745, but watched its return to France three years later. The peace was shortlived and in 1758, the British captured the town a second time. In 1760, Louisbourg’s fortifications were destroyed and the small British garrison left the fortress eight years later.

Food Gardens

When the French first arrived in Louisbourg, they found the soil to be of below average quality for their gardening. The poor soil combined with the harsh climate inhibited the residents from growing the vegetables and herbs in the quantity or quality of which they were accustomed to in France. Consequently townspeople would often bring soil from other parts of the island and mix it with the original soil in their gardens. The resulting gardens, known as potagers, had an assortment of vegetables and herbs which were used as dyes as well as for cooking and medicinal purposes. Typical vegetables grown were: cabbages, turnip, carrots, beans, and peas. Common herbs were: mint, parsley, sage and thyme.

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January 9, 2009   1 Comment

Our Gardens Yesterday and Today – 1917 cartoon

Mr. Patriot’s front garden in Town, as it was.

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And as he hopes to have it this year. Potatoes, Parsnips, Turnips.

By W.K. Haselden
Daily Mirror, Great Britain
19 Jan. 1917

December 31, 2008   Comments Off

European Chafer Destroys Lawns in Vancouver

European Chafer in Vancouver from Michael Levenston on Vimeo.
See High Definition HD Vimeo version here.
Also see alternative HD High Definition version on YouTube.

Lawns are being dug up all over the east side of Vancouver by birds and animals looking for the fat grubs of the European Chafer Beetle. Maria goes out to look at a boulevard where crows are having breakfast on someone’s no-longer-perfect lawn. She makes some suggestions for homeowners – they can use nematodes to help control the pest, or find an alternative to grass. How about vegetables?

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December 10, 2008   2 Comments

Composting in the Tropics – Singapore Style

Watch Composting in Singapore

With the sound of cicadas in the background, Esme shows us how she composts at home in Singapore and avoids attracting venomous snake such as King Cobras and vipers, and non-venomous pythons (adults grow to a maximum of more than 32 feet).

And for more about nature in Singapore, read the following article:

Wildlife’s revenge – Even in urban Singapore, it can sometimes be a jungle

Two to three times a week, Singapore police receive a call from a resident reporting a visit by one of Singapore’s many snakes.

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December 9, 2008   2 Comments

Urban agriculture as local initiative in Lusaka, Zambia

Photo by Matt and Polly. Mapalo gardens. See larger image here.

By Godfrey Hampwaye, Etienne Nel, Christian M Rogerson
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 2007,
Volume 25, pages 553 – 572
May 2007


The topic of urban agriculture has, for a significant period of time, been recognized as a key facet of urban survival in the cities in the South. While it normally forms part of multilivelihood strategies and its overall significance is the subject of some debate, it nonetheless is an important feature of both urban landscapes and urban survival. This paper examines the current status quo of urban agriculture in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

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December 6, 2008   Comments Off

1943 – You Cannot Eat Lilies – Victory Garden Video

Watch 1943 – You Cannot Eat Lilies – Victory Garden Video

Perhaps the weirdest Victory Garden video ever.
1943 Dig For Victory Leaflet No 1

Dialogue from the video.

“In spring this gardener sowed away
He meant to eat well every day.”

Gardener: Waiter,

Father Time: Yes Sir, coming Sir.
Your summer course Sir.
Pardon Sir, will you order your winter course now?
I say will you order your winter course now?

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December 5, 2008   Comments Off

1937 – Children Boxing in an Allotment Garden


2nd July 1937: Children in the allotments of the London Children’s Gardens Fund at Clerkenwell take a break from gardening with their weekly bout of boxing. Larger image here.

November 30, 2008   Comments Off

Vancouver vegetable growers band together – club encourages growing your own food

Photo Bill Keay, Vancouver Sun. Meeru sitting in centre with fellow club members.

By Meeru Dhalwala
The Vancouver Sun, 26 Nov 2008

I certainly didn’t have an idyllic childhood, but I did gain some idyllic principles from my mom and dad. It used to drive me crazy when either one would yell at me for getting even a “ B” on a test or for not finishing my lunch, even if the bread was stale.

“ In India . . .” was how they always started the guilt trip. As I became older, I yelled back that they were the ones who had brought me to the U. S. and that I wasn’t going to feel guilty about all the poor people in India.

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November 26, 2008   Comments Off

We harvested Jerusalem artichokes today.

We Harvest Jerusalem Artichokes from Michael Levenston on Vimeo. Click on the Vimeo link to watch a High Definition (HD) version of this video.
Also see alternative HD High Definition version on YouTube.

Maria planted lots of Jerusalem artichokes last April and now we are harvesting buckets of these tasty tubers.

Jerusalem artichokes or Sunchokes are a perennial sunflower with tasty potato-like tubers. 6-8 ft tall with daisy-like flowers, sunchokes are very hardy and can become weedy, so plant them in a bed that is permanent. Harvest from August through late Fall. Nutty tasting tubers become sweeter after frost when left in the ground!

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November 21, 2008   Comments Off

Burma-Shave Ad Promotes Victory Gardens – 1944

Pacific Drug Review Magazine, 1944

Burma-Shave was an American brand of brushless shaving cream, famous for its advertising gimmick of posting humorous rhyming poems on small, consecutive highway billboard signs.

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November 21, 2008   Comments Off